Daddy Roy the DJ Daddy
Ewart Beckford had no idea that the gleeful shouts, banter and jive he waxed at Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle studios in early1970 would net him even a shirt, let alone influence a musical trend which has no end in sight. A dj on Dickie Wong’s”Dickie’s Atomic” sound system circa 1968, U Roy went over to dub-master-to be Osbourne Ruddock, aka King Tubby, and ‘Tubbs” sound system King Tubby’s Hi-Fi, where he continued his selecting and djing prowess. In 1969 U Roy began to commithis voice to wax – for Lee Perry, where he rode Peter Tosh’s English/Amharic “Rightful Ruler,” for Matador records’ LloydDaley, and label owners Bunny Lee and Keith Hudson.
In late 1969/early ’70 Osbourne Ruddock, aka King Tubby, brought the talented young chatter over to kingpin Duke Reid and hisTreasure Isle studios. By 1970, the Treasure Isle label had fallen out of the limelight of the local Hit Parade as a new cropof younger, rebel producers were changing the sound of the music from the sweet and nostalgic Rock Steady of 1967-68 (ofwhich the Duke had been a proven champion) to the Sound of Now – Reggae. U Roy’s arrival on the scene, straight from thesound systems, the streets and the people, managed to pump new blood into the former cornerstone of Jamaican music whenTreasure Isle engineer Bryon Smith got out the master tapes to the Treasure Isle rocksteady hits of a few years prior and letthem roll, this time with U Roy at the microphone.
The results were explosive: the three songs U Roy cut, all toasts overprevious vocal hits: “Wake The Town,” “Rule the Nation,” and “Wear You The Ball,” made the charts and sold well, with “Wakethe Town” reaching #1 and “Wear You To the Ball” making its way on JBC’s “Top Tunes Time” TV show featuring future Wailersorganist Earl ‘Wire’ Lindo. The Jamaican public had loved U Roy’s spontaneous outbursts and hip jive.
After U Roy’s triumphant launch at Treasure Isle, he went on to voice hundreds of singles for virtually every Jamaicanproducer throughout the seventies. He had a good string of hits with Bunny Lee throughout 1975 and ’76. In 1976, U Roy hookedup with Prince Tony Robinson and cut the famous “Dread Inna Babylon” album which saw release on Virgin records and finallyput U Roy on the international reggae map. Shortly afterwards, however, U Roy decided to step out of the recording arena,stay “a yard” and set up his own Sturgav sound system which played out all over Jamaica with U Roy selecting and the greatCharlie Chaplin and Josey Wales on the microphone. For many years now Sturgav has been inactive but U Roy has recentlyresurrected it in JA.
By the late 1970’s deejays had practically become the order of the day and by 1985, when the modern “digi” era of Dancehallarrived, it seemed as if U Roy, the man who had started the dj trade on vinyl in the first place, had been forgotten. Indeedduring much of the 1980s he was inactive, but in the 90s U Roy began again, seemingly as if he had never stopped. Linking upwith the UK’s avant-garde dub wiz the Mad Professor and Ariwa studios, U Roy versioned the fine “True Born African” album andmore recently, U Roy is back again, this time quite possibly one of the best and most inspired sets he’s delivered yet: “TheOriginator” for the up and coming Tabou label, which is as inspired as anything he has ever done and shares his inspired djstylings with the vocals of Gregory, D. Brown, Beres, and many other greats.